RAAR - Reburial and Analyses of Archaeological Remains
The aim of the RAAR project is to analyse the preservation or degradation of different material stored in a waterlogged environment in Marstrand, western Sweden.
The RAAR Project
The RAAR project (Reburial and Analyses of Archaeological Remains) investigates the effects on reburied artefacts in order to find out and evaluate alternative methods for preserving wet archaeological remains. To rebury is to create a waterlogged storage area to be compared with a "normal" museum storage. The project totally consists of six sub-projects.
The Bohus County Museum and the Studio Västsvensk Konservering, Sweden, manage the project. Organisations in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Australia with relevant competence, take responsibility for respective sub-projects.
Background, Aims and Design of the RAAR Project
To protect the fragile and non-renewable archaeological heritage, non-destructive and non-intrusive conservation strategies, such as in situ preservation, are emphasized in the UNESCO convention of 2001. Reburial can be seen as the other side of the coin in that it seeks to emulate a pre-excavation (in situ) environment that has been benign for the preservation of archaeological remains for centuries. Therefore reburial and in-situ preservation of shipwrecks and other archaeological underwater sites represents a new field of interest that is being given increased attention. The approach offers the potential to understand and identify the processes of deterioration of archaeological materials in underwater environments. However, more importantly, it also offers the possibility to find methods of counteracting these processes and to create alternative storage for the preservation of underwater archaeological heritage.
The extensive archaeological investigations and reburial of recovered archaeological artefacts that took place in Marstrand harbour during 1998 to 1999, was the catalyst for the international reburial research project ‘Reburial and Analyses of Archaeological Remains’ (RAAR), which was initiated 2001. The project is co-ordinated by Bohusläns Museum and Studio Västsvensk Konservering in Sweden and consists of six sub-projects co-ordinated in turn by museums and universities in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Australia. Each sub-project has its own aims and design, see final reports.
The general purpose of RAAR is to evaluate reburial as a method for long-term storage and preservation of waterlogged archaeological remains. The study aims to determine the effects of the burial environment in Marstrand harbour on a wide range of material types. These are organic materials (e.g. wood, textile and leather) as well as inorganic materials such as silicates and metals. The stability of these, the most commonly encountered materials on archaeological excavations, has been studied, as well as that of packing and labelling materials. Understanding the degradation patterns of packing and labelling materials is important, since it affects the ability to identify artefacts at a later stage.
The project concurrently monitors and assesses the burial environment in Marstrand with the aim to complement the studies on materials and to discuss important physical and chemical criteria necessary for a reburial environment.
It is the scope of the study to provide, where possible, guidelines for the material types that can safely be reburied in environments similar to the one at Marstrand and to identify those that should not be reburied. Hopefully, this wide-ranging study will provide valuable information linking environmental parameters and degradation of the included materials. In order to determine the long-term effects of reburial on the different material types, sufficient samples were buried to allow sampling to continue for up to 50 years.
If you are interested in the project and would like to get some more information the following documents are available as pdf. Please contact Inger Nyström Godfrey for further information.
Reports and Articles
Heritage Management Aspects on Reburial After Ten Years of Work (2012)
Final report - phase II (PDF-document) Report Phase II
Final report - phase I (PDF-document) Report Phase I
(PDF document, 1Mb. Swedish) pre-proj.pdf
List of references